FCC Proposes Fine of $1.4 Mil for Showing Buttocks

According to a recent news report,

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed fines totaling $1.4 million against 52 ABC Television Network stations in connection with a 2003 broadcast of the cop show “NYPD Blue” which included “multiple, close-range views of an adult woman’s naked buttocks.” (Source)

What’s indecent about this whole thing is the way the FCC is dealing with it! As IT is quoted:

“As an initial matter, we find that the programming at issue is within the scope of our indecency definition because it depicts sexual organs and excretory organs — specifically an adult woman’s buttocks,” the FCC stated in its notice published Monday.

Apparently, these FCC guys haven’t been getting any buttocks lately…

My good friend and fellow FALA member Dr. Marty Klein has a great take on this story. Do him the honors and read it here.

And also, my other good buddy Marco Randazza’s post here.


  1. Hey, at least the FCC didn’t take too long to reach a conclusion. Come on, they sat on their “sexual organs” for 5 years? That show hasn’t been on for at least a couple of years. What’s next, a fine to NBC for an episode of “Cheers”? I didn’t watch NYPD Blue, but if I remember right it had a warning before that stated it was for mature audiences. It was a violent cop show that came on late at night. It’s another example of this country’s acceptance of violence but ignorance of the human body.

    Comment by Daniel Roberts on January 30, 2008 at 5:51 pm

  2. This one really cracks me up. I don’t disagree that the FCC’s fine and reprimand for this minor incident is extreme; however, with such regulations in place, the FCC is required to enforce them and hold accountable those who break the rules. If the FCC were to let minor offenses pass without reprimand, it could lead to more offenses and likely more major offenses. Additionally, other networks would refer back to the ABC incident that the FCC let slide to rationalize their indecent exposure. It then opens the door for all other networks to break the rules. Is it possible that the FCC is trying to show some leniency by delaying charges by 5+ years? Bottom line is that parents need to be diligent in regulating what their children view on television as well as finding more important matters to worry and complain about.

    Comment by Jennifer Augustine on January 31, 2008 at 2:38 pm

  3. Let us not fool ourselves, this scene with the exposed buttocks and then some was nothing more than a ratings ploy by ABC and the NYPD Blue writers. This scene was to appeal to the lowest common denominator of viewers; there was no message of sorts to change the world, just a naked woman. This story could have been told without the gratuitous nudity at this viewing time before 10 pm. The FCC has a point. Maybe if more people could use their imaginations it would not be necessary for television and other media outlets to keep pushing the envelope. Surely, there is a nobler cause to argue the first amendment.

    Comment by Angela Geier on February 1, 2008 at 9:06 am

  4. I agree that the FCC should not let this slip by. This show was aired during Primetime hours and was “pushing” the rules when broadcasting nudity. I too, agree that the show did not need the nudity. I can certainly watch a TV show or a movie without nudity or sex. It really doesn’t make or break the show! Can’t we have a little bit of morals in our society? Why are our children (and adults) constantly blasted with nudity, sex and violance for that matter? Believe me, I don’t watch a show or go to a movie because it has nudity in it!

    Comment by Jeri Harms on February 6, 2008 at 4:47 pm

  5. That is really bizarre that it took them 5 years to come to a conclusion. I think this is a little extreme. The show has a warning that it is for mature audiences so I believe that disclaimer should be sufficient that if you watch this you could see things that could offend some people. I remember when this show was new that it was known for using real life situations and being controversial. With that said people that watched it should have known this before they tuned in. I do agree that the scene could have been left out and it didn’t make the show any better. I feel there are a lot of other issues in this world of higher importance than this case and maybe they should put more concentration on those.

    Comment by Sheila Pastore on February 11, 2008 at 12:35 pm

  6. Really? The FTC is going to fine 52 ABC Television Network stations NOW, 4 years later for an episode showing a little “tail”? All I see them doing is opening a huge can of worms, because if they’re going to fine for something like that, there are plenty of other shows that are showing the same thing, or worse! I agree with previous posts that NYPD displayed a “for mature audiences” before an episode began. By fining, is the FTC saying “absolutely no skin”?

    And, let’s not forget the station(s) (TBS) that allow s**t and bas***d to slip out. What is the difference between bare skin and foul language, which is more of a detriment to viewers?

    Comment by Susanne Joslin on February 13, 2008 at 12:23 pm

  7. I approve that FCC had fined this channel for showing buttocks. Because being a parent makes me think that I do not want my child to watch this scene by accident between 9 and 10 P.M. The FCC actions are absolutely right, which makes me wonder if they are going to fine other channels for showing indecent speech and images. However, being a critical person makes me think that FCC imposed this fine five years after this show was aired because of other reasons other than just naked buttocks. I guess that one of the reasons could be a simple distraction of audience’s attention from more important events going on in the world. So if they want to fulfill a role of censor, they should do it consistently. They have plenty of other things on TV today that deserve their attention.

    Comment by Elena Gorsuch on February 26, 2008 at 10:16 pm

  8. I wasn’t aware that your butt was considered a sex organ. I think it is silly that the FCC wants to fine ABC 1.4 million for a women disrobig to take a shower and you see her butt for 2.5 seconds five years ago. There are many more shows that have a lot of sexual content worse than seeing a butt for a few seconds. The shows comes on later in the evening, by then most children are asleep and a quick scene of a butt I doubt would scare them for life. The FCC needs to focus on getting themselves a piece of butt!

    Comment by Jennifer Mackall on March 6, 2008 at 3:11 pm

  9. I remember when television didn’t have commercials showing tampons, sanitary napkins, E.D., genital herpes and more.
    If parents want to clean up tv they’ve got a big job ahead of them. A person’s butt is not the worst thing to see. So many shows have much more sexual content in them than the butt picture. It is the paren’t job to censor what their children watch. Good luck!

    Comment by Karen Secrest on April 12, 2008 at 1:00 pm

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